Un trajet, un voyage, un séjour…
uh traa-zhay, uh vwah-yahzh, uh say-ZHOOR… Click below to hear these and other related words!
How do you know which word to use when you want to talk about a trip you took? Here, just in time for those back-to-school “what-I-did-last-summer” essays, is the answer.
Un séjour is a stay, so you use it when you go somewhere and stay there for a while. For example, J’ai fait un séjour d’une semaine dans les montagnes. I took a week-long trip to the mountains.
Une croisière is a cruise, so you would say J’ai fait une croisière dans les îles, I took a cruise to the islands. For it to be une croisière, there has to be water involved. The water in your drinking jug doesn’t count.
Un voyage can be all sorts of trips, but it has a special connotation: It refers to what you do while you are on the trip–all the museums, châteaux, shopping, swimming, or business meetings, more meetings, conferences, phone calls, and overstuffed dinners. Where you went, and how you got there, are not the point.
Le trajet, on the other hand, is all about how you got there. You can say Le trajet a été un désastre, The trip was a disaster. it doesn’t mean your whole vacation was awful, only the traveling part. Anything from lost luggage to delayed flights could elicit this comment…or, on a more local note, traffic jams on the way to work.
Une visite is a short-term trip to see a specific site or locale: if you are on un séjour, it could be a museum, or a cathedral. If you are on un. voyage with multiple stops, it could be a stopover in a specific city or other locale.
But let’s suppose vous faites un séjour somewhere, and then you make a side trip: that’s une excursion. The French word comes from the Latin for to run outside of: in other words, it’s a digression, a detour off the main road.
And then there is un trip, which I really hope was not part of your vacation. Un trip involves mushrooms and other illegal drugs, and is often used in conjunction with the adjective mauvais (bad). Not a good way to spend a vacation!
So are you ready to write your essay, or have a conversation about your vacation? Now you are in the know!